Archive | September 2013

"Wait Until Your Father Gets Home…"

     There are times as a parent that we are forced into explaining something that we really don’t want to, especially those of a personal nature.  As a Mom, that task is usually put upon me because Dad is squeamish about most things.  I don’t mind doing it and I rather like giving the play by play to my husband as payback for having to go it alone. The phrase, “Wait until your Father get’s home” is more like, “Wait until your father gets home so I can make him squirm with every gory little detail!”  He can’t escape that easily! Muuhahaha! 

 
     Ahem…Where was I? Ah yes, personal nature.  So when the dog steals a tampon applicator out of the trash, for instance and Jacob asks, “What is that?”  I feel compelled to tell him the truth and I did.  After all, the things I say might very well be held against me the next time I am in a public place. I certainly don’t want him to spy a box of tampons in some poor unsuspecting souls cart and hear hear him say, “Oh look Mom! A box of rockets!”  Having said that, I do try and make the explanations short and sweet. 

    The tampon explanation was met with a huge,”EWWWWWWWWWWW!”   My job is done when I am confident that he is so grossed out he’ll never repeat to anyone. Ever. I’ll spare you the details. You’re welcome :o)

 
      Which leads me to the all too famed Sex Talk for Jacob at the ripe old age of 11. Andrew is extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of life and everything in it, down to the minute details.  It’s annoying. I say that with love LOL. He thrives on knowledge and I can never get him enough books to satisfy his appetite.  You know the kid is bored when he starts reading the dictionary.  The sex talk with Andrew was not even a talk. He read a book, asked if it was true. I said that it was and we were done. That’s all she wrote.

 

    Andrew, unfortunately, has no edit button.  When he absorbs something, he opens his mouth and talks about it to the world, whether they want to hear it or not.  At the age of 5, he explained to the poor sap salesman in the men’s clothing store, how a C-Section was performed.  It tends to push people away, as you can well imagine, and has been a large reason why he found it difficult to make friends.  So, when Cayden and Jacob were playing leap frog, Andrew was a bit disgusted and told the boys that they looked like they were “humping”.

    Cayden burst out laughing because he thought it was hilarious. Jacob had no clue so Andrew decided to fill him in. I prided myself on being able to avoid the talk with Jacob all of these years as he never asked any questions about it. After Andrew’s lack lustre explanation of, “You look like you’re having sex”, Jacob got angry. Partly because he didn’t know what it was, apart from the way parents make babies but also because he thought his brother was teasing him for “being dumb”.  He was put in a time out on the stairs and we had a little talk. I decided that it was time to fill him in. Short and sweet.

    “The penis goes into the vagina.”

    His eyes got wide and then it happened, “EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!! EWWW! EWWW! EWWW! GROSS!!!”

He stops for a second, “You and Dad did that?!?!?!” 

(Yeah kid, 3 times only. That’s it. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more.)

    Then his face went blank. I could see the wheels turning in his brain and he yelled, “Hey Andrew! You’re a freakin’ liar! I don’t have a vagina so Cayden couldn’t hump me!” Logic.

    Which brings me to today.  First, let’s go back a couple of days when I had to explain what a douche bag was.  Thank you Summer’s Eve commercial.  *sigh…”It’s what women use to clean their vaginas.” Again, short and sweet. I thought we were done…Until I opened my big mouth this morning.

    Cayden and Jacob were having a conversation about gaming and whether or not he would help Jacob with the new game he has pre-ordered next month.  Of course, Cayden is being a brat, teasing him and making Jacob believe that he won’t help and let him suffer through it while he sits back and laughs. Understandably, Jacob is getting a little upset so I, in my infinite wisdom, thinking I could lighten the situation say, 

    “Jacob, Cayden is being what’s known as a Douche Bag.” 


     It worked. Jacob smiled and Cayden started laughing.  Crisis averted so I grabbed my coffee cup, walked down the hallway and while I am taking a final sip I hear,

     “Wait…Cayden is a pussy bag?!”

   

    I spit out my coffee all over the floor.  Two things ran through my mind as fast as lightening;  Did I just hear what I think I heard? and Where the hell did he learn that?  I hear laughter and Jacob asked me what I was snorting about. I guess spit takes sound like snorts..??

 

     As I am cleaning coffee off the floor, he asked if I was laughing at what he said. I said, “Well, what did you say?”

    He says, “What? Isn’t it for cleaning lady parts?”

    Well why the hell couldn’t he say Lady Parts to begin with? So another lecture about never repeating that word in public or anywhere for that matter. It’s wrong and don’t even describe a cat that way because people are sensitive, blah, blah, blah. It was beginning to sound like a broken record….UGH.  All I can ever do is hope it sticks. Another day, another story.


    I cannot wait until their father gets home LOL

The Dark Side of Special Needs Parenting

   Like so many others, I read the news story about a woman who attempted to kill her 14 year old daughter as well as herself.  Her daughter was autistic.  I haven’t had the opportunity to follow her blog since I am relatively new to everything here but, I’ve read several blog posts and comments about her.  The common theme amongst them is how we need to pull together as a community.

    I’ve been doing this for 22 years and I have always felt alone. We moved a lot over those years and family was never really physically close enough to help.  Making friends is difficult because I always have Jacob attached to my hip. It was only until recently, when I started my blog and Facebook page, that I discovered others out there who get it. Others that live it and know it like I do.

 That this life as a special needs parent is difficult even on the best days. Parenting is difficult for anyone.  There’s no manual and if, like me, you have a special needs child right out of the gate, you can be sure you’ll feel like a total failure at one end of the parenting spectrum but also feel that you are the only person who knows anything about your child. You are the only one who knows how to care for him so you paint yourself into that corner of despair and close yourself off to everyone.

    This is the side of parenting that nobody sees.  The holes in the walls from meltdowns.  The repairs in the walls reminding us of past meltdowns.

 

    The broken staircase or windows or doors that we have to live with because it’s the first thing he attacks when he’s angry.

     The countless broken dishes, toys and treasures. The worn out carpets and bedding and clothing from constant washing because the child has decided to paint their room with feces or has ripped their skin to the bone with sensory overload and there’s blood everywhere. 

There’s also the fear of actually making a friend and inviting them over because your house looks like a tornado hit it.


    The side that most people do see are the police cars in the driveway every other day when things are really bad and a CIT officer is the only person on the planet that is capable of calming your son. They see visits from social workers because those cuts and bruises on your child’s body couldn’t have possibly been made by himself. You resort to videotaping every meltdown to prove that you didn’t lay a finger on him. It’s your child who is actually hitting himself in the head over and over again. It’s he who is literally bouncing on his knees on the hard floor even though you put a dozen pillows down to soften the surface. 

    You videotape every time you have to restrain your child because even though a therapist taught you how to do it properly so he can’t do anymore damage to himself, you or the house, your son still manages to push the cushion aside and smash his head on the floor over and over again. 

    The side that many see is the sensory overloaded child in the grocery store who can’t take it anymore and dissolves into a seething, angry mess on the floor and all you can do is watch and wait for it to be over because he’s too big to carry out anymore and restraining him in public is too terrifying for anyone to witness.

    We as parents, see the stares and hear the comments from other people in the grocery store, the neighbours who judge from a distance and tell their own children that they are not to play with your son.  

    “Your son is too old to play with my kids”, They would say. Our children just want to play with the neighbourhood kids because even now, at age 21, he is still a little boy.  We get the knocks on the door from neighbours who find it easier to blame our children for broken toys, scratches on their cars or even dog crap in their yards. 

    As parents, we get tired of explaining that our children are autistic or mentally delayed or whatever…It always seems to fall on deaf ears. 
   
     It’s hard for most people to imagine what this mother was thinking when she chose to end her life and that of her child’s.  It’s impossible for parents of NT children to imagine that a person could even entertain the thought of harming their child.  It’s not at all difficult for me. 

    I know her pain all too well.  I remember clearly those days that I would lock myself in the bathroom, look at my wrist and think how easy it would be to just let go. The mornings that I would pull the pillow over my head and could not physically move because as soon as I let my screaming son out of his locked bedroom, the horror would unfold.  I remember all too clearly, thinking that I was raising a serial killer and what was I going to do when he was bigger than me?

     I remember thinking that the world would be better off without me and much better off without Jacob. We were burdens on society and to live would be selfish. Who am I to put such a burden on my husband, his family and society as a whole. What right did I have to ask for help when there were much needier people than us?

    You see, in my mind, suicide was not a selfish act. It was completely selfless.  I was but a drop in the proverbial ocean and didn’t matter. Nothing good was ever going to come of us living. I was doing my family and the world a favour and unburdening it from our problems…

    I was doing the world a favour.

    After we moved to Oklahoma, Jacob started seeing a therapist that put us in touch with our current physician. This doctor went above and beyond to help Jacob and he was slowly getting better.  I decided to make an appointment for myself. 

     The doctor has a system of numbers to determine where a person is in their mental health.  The numbers are determined by a questionnaire each time you visit the office. The higher the number, the more severe your condition.  Lowering the numbers is accomplished through medication, therapy and whatever else is necessary to get well.

    My first questionnaire revealed such a high number that I was told by the doctor and his staff that it was a miracle I was still standing.  He said that the majority of people with my numbers are either in a psychiatric ward or dead.  That was 8 years ago.  It took a full year of therapy and medication intervention to get me to a place where I was actually happy to be on planet earth. I was never hospitalized because the doctor knew that I was strong, even though I didn’t believe it myself. This doctor literally saved our lives.

    To this day, I still struggle with depression and probably always will. But I am strong. I am strong enough to fight for myself and for my children, no matter how bad it gets now.  I am a lone warrior whose only connection to others like me is through the internet so I embrace that with every fibre of my being. It keeps me going. 

    I am all too familiar with the darkness that this mother felt when she made that fateful decision.  I am all too familiar with the helpless feelings, the sense of despair knowing that your child is never going to be ‘normal’.  The embarrassment of reaching out for help and feeling that nobody is listening hard enough to you or that you are not making yourself heard loud enough. The guilt of feeling that this was your fault. If you had done things differently while you were pregnant, he would be normal.  If you weren’t so distraught over the fact that you wanted a girl and instead got this screeching bundle of jiggly boy flesh that would not settle down for anything, and the longing to love him but he was making it so difficult…he would be normal. The mourning that you couldn’t get past because you wanted a normal, happy child and he is anything but. That longing to be anywhere but here. 

  There is great courage in asking for help. I had to admit defeat and swallow my pride.  It was one thing to ask for help for your child and as a mother, that came naturally to me but I was not capable of being a good mother until I got some help for myself.  I recognized that and acted. The dark days are few and far between now and I am grateful.

    The next time you see a child meltdown in a public place, flash a knowing smile to the parent or ask if they need anything. Just saying, “You’re doing fine, Mama. It’ll be okay.” is enough to ease the pain and embarrassment of not being able to meet your child’s need at that moment in time. Even NT children have their overwhelming, over stimulating moments and all parents could use a little encouragement instead of judgement in those very tough moments.

    We, as a community, cannot let another one fall through the cracks. Some people are not as strong as I was. They need someone to act on their behalf, whether they like it or not. Recognize the signs of depression. LISTEN for signs of depression in the people around you. Don’t take no for an answer if your gut tells you that they need someone to talk to. Check in on them regularly. Make an excuse to give a quick call and say hello. A quick drive by on your way to an appointment, to drop off a  DVD that their child might be interested in. Make arrangements to pick it up so you have an excuse to stop in again. Take their child off their hands for an hour so the parents can have a nap or a well needed shower by themselves LOL.

    I’m not saying that you have to drop everything and cater to another. I’m saying that it’s the little gestures of good will that let us know that someone has our back. The best thing that happened in my neighbourhood last year was my neighbour taking time to listen to Andrew vent about his brother.  My neighbour was still doing his yard work but he let my son get it all out of his system.  He didn’t offer advice. He just listened. He gave Andrew an outlet for his anger and when I apologized for my son, he looked at me and said, 

   “The kid needed an ear. I was here. It’s all good.” 

    That was enough. Andrew was calm and able to come back into the house to resume his day. Crisis averted by a kind gesture so I bought the guy a 6 pack as a thank you LOL

    To those of you who don’t think you are strong…You are stronger than you think!  You are a fighter! It’s not too late to reach out and ask…Hell, BEG for help. There is no shame in it! I want to see you be BRAVE! 

Cue the music:

 For information on depression and mental health, follow these links.

NIMH  The National Institute of Mental Health

The Mayo Clinic